Backcountry Ski on a Cinder Cone at Craters of the Moon

Rate this Adventure Craters of the Moon Visitor Center Parking

Backcountry ski on cinder cones, surrounded by fields of lava.

Craters of the Moon National Monument is 1100 square miles of basalt lava and sagebrush. It looks like another planet: desolate in macro, beautiful in micro. 

Craters is most popular in the summer, when visitors from nearby Sun Valley arrive to hike on sun-baked lava hot enough to melt their shoes.

Winter is a particularly quiet season at Craters, and one of the most fun. Strap on cross country skis and glide the six mile loop road through cinder cones and lava fields. When there is adequate snow cover, park staff groom the road for both skate and classic skis.

For the more adventurous, Craters allows backcountry skiing on the cinder cones. Though the grades are gentle, come prepared with the knowledge to read the snowpack and always carry avalanche safety gear.

Winter parking is at the visitor center, and all access into the park is via snowshoe or ski. Park entrance during the winter is free, and there is no fee to use the groomed trails.

Be sure to check Current Conditions before traveling to Craters, as the ski trails are dependent on a solid snowpack.

Pack List

  • Cross country skis, backcountry skis, or snowshoes
  • Avalanche gear if backcountry skiing
  • Plenty of layers, it's always windy
  • Food and drink (the closest convenience store is in Carey, 20 miles west of the park)
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RT Distance 2 Miles
Elevation Gain 500 Feet
Activities Snowboarding, Skiing, Snowshoeing
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Winter
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Scenic

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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